The sum of a person’s life can be told in their hands.
I was diagnosed my first year of college with Rhuematoid Arthritis. I felt my pain most acutely in my hands and back being bent over using tools to create Art. Around the same time I began photographing older adults in rest homes to practice my craft and give them a sense of specialness. I began to feel a strong connection with this group and the health troubles we shared.
This project started my obsession with hands. These older adults could sometimes only communicate with their hands. I became fascinated with the wrinkles and veins on their aged appendages. It is where my affinity for the hand-made and professions where you work with your hands started. Betty couldn’t speak, but she was so proud of her immaculately pink painted nails that she wanted me to photograph them. This photo of her hands across an afghan helped secure a college scholarship.
My college friends and I started a comedic WWF-style wrestling act soon after this called KPOWW (Kalamazoo Precinct of Women Wrestlers). We all chose characters which had some sort of personal connection. My character, Estelle the Eliminator, came about after immersing myself in learning about and dealing with this disease. I found myself dressing in costume and juxtaposing instruments of elderly care and older adults hands. This is where my obsession with hands, working with hands and gesture came about. I continue to photograph hands and gesture.